Say No To Grandpa Joe

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Both the book and its two movie counterparts have many perceived villains. But, when you think about it, none of them are actually villains in the first place. Slugworth, the obvious culprit, is actually just a moral test placed in the children’s way by Willy Wonka.  You could also consider Willy Wonka a villain; but in the end he is just trying to find an heir to his empire. The true villain in the series is Grandpa Joe.

Whenever I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a child there was something that always struck me as off with everyone’s perception of Grandpa Joe. He didn’t strike me as the friendly grandpa that had his grandchild’s best interest at heart. Firstly, he demanded to have his tobacco. He demanded tobacco when his family was subsisting on cabbage water. I mean he offers to give up his habit, but it is like he is just offering and doesn’t actually intend to do it and, of course, he doesn’t. In the book, he also keeps a hidden stash of money! Who is this guy?!

His motives for wanting Charlie to get the golden ticket are also suspect. It is insinuated in the book and the second movie that Grandpa Joe is actually the spy that is stealing Willy Wonka’s secrets. Not only would Grandpa Joe give anything to go into the factory again but in the book he is extremely knowledgeable about the goings on inside the factory. While the spy theory is kind of a stretch, it does merit mentioning.

The real evidence starts to pile up when Charlie finds the Golden Ticket. Grandpa Joe has been bedridden for twenty years and was being cared for by his daughter-in-law and grandchild. However, when Charlie runs in saying that he has found the last golden ticket Grandpa Joe almost immediately gets up and starts dancing! After twenty years of being bedridden! Not only does he dance, but he sings:

I never thought my life could be
Anything but catastrophe
But suddenly I begin to see
A bit of good luck for me

‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket
I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye

I never had a chance to shine
Never a happy song to sing
But suddenly half the world is mine
What an amazing thing

‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket

It’s ours, Charlie!

At first, he states that he has the golden ticket and that it is expressly his and upon realizing his gaffe he quickly states that it does in fact partially belong to his grandchild when in fact it is solely Charlie’s.  He tries to throw you by making you feel bad about how awful his life has been, but it is just part of his plan.  While I love the dance scene with Jack Albertson, I just can’t get over the initial ownership he takes over the golden ticket and the fact that he could have been helping his family earn and possibly eat more than cabbage water.

Of course Grandpa Joe offers to go with Charlie to the factory instead of his mother, I mean would it be too much for him to work for her and give her much needed time off? When they get to the factory, Grandpa Joe prompts Charlie to sign a contract without actually reading it. All the other children go along with it as well but against the behests of their parents.


There are countless ways to nit pick at Grandpa Joe and his awfulness so I will stick to the most obvious ones for the duration of the post. Some theories state that Grandpa Joe is a pervert among other things, but I think that stretches it a bit.

Now time for the fizzy lifting drink incident. They reach the room and Wonka tells them not to drink it for it is not quite ready for human consumption. As the rest of the group leaves Grandpa Joe encourages Charlie to steal and drink the fizzy lifting drinks. This little jaunt almost kills him and his grandchild. Luckily, Grandpa Joe’s burping skills save them.

Next comes the demise of one, Veruca Salt. Whenever she gets sent down the bad egg chute Grandpa Joe shows little concern for her well being and says that her father got his wish and Veruca went first. Even though she was quite awful she just had that amazing musical number and deserves some respect.

Finally the end of the tour, Charlie is the last child left…or is he? It appears Charlie has been disqualified because of stealing the fizzy lifting drinks. Wonka mentions that the rules forbid it but Grandpa Joe is confused. He didn’t read any rules! I wonder why?! Because you told your grandchild to NOT read the rules and when would stealing be okay, anyways? Oh wait, remember Grandpa Joe is an industrial spy and stealing is old hat to him.

Luckily, Charlie is a good person at heart and gives back the Everlasting Gobstopper and passes Wonka’s last test but not before Grandpa Joe goads him to give the gobstopper to Slugworth and collect on the money. See!? What I’m saying is true!

Wonka then promises Charlie the factory and then we get the best scene in the movie in the “glass”elevator. Even that scene is marred by Grandpa Joe, when Wonka tells Charlie he can move into the factory. The first thing Grandpa Joe says is, “What about me?!”  He can’t even be happy for his grandchild and is concerned only for his own wellbeing. He doesn’t even care about the rest of his family. What a sad, sick man, indeed.

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